Northern Sinfonia, one of Europe’s most exciting orchestras and the first permanent chamber orchestra in Britain, was founded by Michael Hall while he was still in his 20s. He later worked as a producer on the BBC’s Third Programme, now Radio 3, and wrote six important books about music.
As a youngster, Hall became a founder member of the National Youth Orchestra, playing the viola. Then, in 1950, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. After national service with the Royal Air Force, where as a bandmaster he had his first experience of conducting, he gained a music degree at Durham University.
Northern Sinfonia, known at the outset as the Sinfonia Orchestra, gave its first concert at the City Hall, Newcastle, in September 1958. In its early days, Hall described himself as general manager, secretary, artistic director, conductor and fundraiser. Although he resigned in 1964, he returned as a guest conductor from time to time.
Working on the Third Programme from 1965, he was one of an eminent team of producers under Hans Keller, who held several senior positions with the BBC. In particular, Hall championed contemporary music, especially the work of Harrison Birtwistle, who became the subject of two of his books.
In 1974, he left the BBC to become a lecturer at Sussex University. He also returned to conducting. With the New Sussex Opera, he was responsible for memorable performances of Britten’s Peter Grimes and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.
Michael Hall, who was born on March 26, 1932, died on August 22, aged 80.
Richard Anthony Baker